Companies get lost on occasion. Where once their corporate direction was clear something happens to change all that and they head off in a different direction. Sometimes this is a good thing (as when they reinvent themselves for the better). Other times it’s not.
One example of reinvention that worked might be Marantz. Back in the early 1950s when Saul Marantz built products out of his home on 81st Avenue at the corner of Austin Street in Kew Gardens, would-be customers purchased the preamps he built out of his basement “factory”. He built and sold more than 400 of those products out of his home before opening a real production facility. Then, in 1964, he sold the company to a Japanese firm, Interscope, and everything changed. Marantz was reinvented yet not in a bad way.
The brand’s ethos still represented the upper echelon of performance, but instead of hand-built audiophile grade products, the new company would make high-volume consumer audio instead. Not high-end nor audiophile approved, but certainly one of the best choices among mass market products when performance matters.
Then there’s the flip side of changing course. Losing one’s way.
The high-end market Whole Foods is a great example. Once the darling of those who were tired of scrounging for high-quality organic foods in the mass market supermarket shelves, sadly this well-known giant has gotten lost. Instead of purchasing A quality organic produce—the very products loyal customers were willing to pay a premium for—the 500 store chain has inched downwards with B goods in the hopes of lowering prices and attracting more customers. This move comes on the heels of their acquisition by Amazon who perhaps doesn’t understand the store’s original ethos.
Or, perhaps they do. Outward appearances haven’t changed—same look, same merchandizing, same lip service to natural and organic—but the magic’s gone, the quality’s slipped, and the new faces don’t seem to notice.
Change is inevitable and more often than not good.
It’s just sad to see institutions once with soul and purpose lose their way.